We had an exclusive opportunity to interview the "millionaire from the neighborhood", Mr. Romy Hawatt who revealed to us the secret of success and what is the future business in Serbia and the Balkans.
Hawatt owns a luxury mega-yacht - the Riana sailboat, 42 meters long, whose native port is in Porto Montenegro. The first thing we noticed when we arrived on the ship is that Mr. Romy is a very kind, well-behaved and hospitable man. He greeted us with a smile and was fully prepared for cooperation.
He was born in a rural part of Queensland, Australia, and is one of seven children of poor parents who migrated from Lebanon. He spent the first part of his childhood in a small village of Tara before his family moved to Sydney in search of a better life.
Now, after decades of dedicated work and effort, he is a leading international entrepreneur, a renowned business person, known for innovative world-class businesses, transformations of start-ups and turning business into millions of valuable commercial projects. He is active as a philanthropist and has been supporting numerous projects in Europe, the Far East, and Africa for years.
We asked him a few questions about developing business in Serbia and here's what he told us.
- Where are you from and what are you exactly doing?
I am from Australia and I have lived in various countries in different parts of the world. I'm a businessman and I've been in trading business for many years, but my main focus these days is aviation, education in aviation.
- You stated that you are a world traveler, where do you currently live and whose citizen you are?
I am a citizen of Australia, but I am also a citizen of Lebanon and Montenegro, in addition, I also live in the United Emirates, because I live in Dubai, and I also live in Great Britain, so I can say that I am a citizen of the world!
- How come you are in Montenegro, are you here on business or for pleasure?
I am investing a lot into business in Montenegro, but of course, pleasure comes with all of that because it is impossible to come here and not to enjoy. I am doing a lot of things, hospitality, PR of different destinations, aviation, I have a school for the training of pilots in Montenegro named "Airways Aviation". It is a part of our group of global aviation.
- Does your business have anything to do with Serbia and have you ever cooperated with anyone who has anything to do with Serbia?
I have worked in Serbia many times since it is one of the good locations for investing. Serbia has a very nice future in the economy because it is important for the Balkans. It used to be a great power in production and agro-culture. I think now everything is back in place and that Serbia will shine again.
- What do you think could be interesting for investors in Serbia?
As I have already mentioned in the first place, agro-culture, then tourism and real estate. I know many people who are interested in investing in Serbia because the conditions are good.
- Have you heard that the factory of aircraft parts will be opened in Serbia soon? What do you think about that? What can this mean for our country and region?
Aviation is one of the sectors which develops the fastest in the world. Anything relating to aviation can only be profitable for Serbia.
- How much does it cost to rent a helicopter, and how much does it cost to rent a yacht in Montenegro?
In "Discover Montenegro" we have an EC 120 airbus naval helicopter, with 5 seats and we rent it for 1600 euros per hour, and the yacht, of course, depends on the type of yacht, but if we are talking about this yacht on which we are ("Riana"), depending on the season, the price can be from 59 to 74 thousand euros a week.
- If you only had 10,000 euros and you want to invest them in a business that will bring money, where would you invest them?
Interesting question. I think I would invest in an online business because they are the best connection with the goods and information about them. It is very important to find the right information about goods and services, so I suggest exactly this kind of business to many people.
- It is stated in many of your biographies that you help startups to develop, what have you invested so far?
I've built many businesses over the years and have been diverse, from food, through the auto industry, but over time, it's changing. For example, when I started my business, what I dealt with at that time no longer exists, there are also new industries and a new demand that exists now in this time, so I never look back, only ahead. Now I think that businesses dealing with technology, applications, things that make life easier and more efficient, are businesses that are worth the attention and investment.
- What kind of startup would you like? Give us a "hint" where would you invest money in Montenegro or Serbia?
I think there are many talented and creative people in the IT industry in Serbia and I think that Serbia has great potential in offering these services to other countries in the world, not only in web design but also in maintaining sites and providing IT support, so I think it is this is an excellent area for claiming such services.
- What do you think, what is the business of the future?
Yes, everything related to IT, it can be software or artificial intelligence, in fact, everything that would make this modern world work better. All this gives Serbia great opportunities because of the number of people who are skilled in this domain.
- You can afford everything, was that always the case?
I started very modestly. It wasn't like this in my life like it is today. People talk about success overnight, but I don't believe in that when you chose your road, and when you leave your blood, sweat, and tears on it, then the success comes. I know that it may seem to many as if it happened overnight, but that is rarely the case, because, many people don't understand what it takes to accomplish all that. So, I think that success depends on how much time you invest, energy, how focused you are and how persistent you are.
- What do you think that people shouldn't waste their money on?
Well, I know that many will not like it when they hear this, but I never drank, did not smoke, nor did I take drugs. So without alcohol, no cigarettes, no artificial stimulus. I think the money I did not spend on these things and invested them in something more useful and smarter contributed to my success. There are people who will say that they will never give up their vices, but they become addicts. I know it's hard to give up all of these vices at the same time, but I think that if they succeed in focusing and directing that energy on something better for them, many would be happier and more successful. I think that the entire society would be much more stable and durable.
- What do you think is it better to keep money in banks, to buy real estate, in diamonds or gold?
I've always thought real estate is the right way to save money well. I always invested my surplus money in this way and I am always alert to new opportunities to invest in real estate. Of course, there are other ways, jewelry, gold, and precious metals, but when you have a property or a country, this is the best trade. Property or land price always increases if you own it in a city.
- If the world was coming to an end, and you can save yourself and you have the time to take just one thing from your home, what would that be and why?
- This is another very interesting question, it depends on which house is in question and where I am. I would take one thing from the house in Dubai, I would certainly take something else from the house in Montenegro, but I think I would definitely take the Swiss multipurpose knife with many tools in it that would help me to survive in a world that is about to end - he concluded with a smile.
Mr. Hawatt has revealed to us that he has been engaged in humanitarian work for many years and is a great philanthropist. A few years ago he helped people in the droughty parts of Africa and Kenya to find water.
- I donated a 100-meter well, which gives about 20,000 liters of water to three Masai tribes in the Ambosili in Kenya, which has about 550 people. Around the wells we built a stone wall to stop the elephants, so as not to destroy it in an attempt to reach the water - Mr. Romy told us, he was really proud of it.
After we learned a lot of information and spent one afternoon with him, we conclude that despite the enormous success and wealth, Mr. Romy Havat stands firm on the ground. We thank him for his outstanding professional cooperation, hospitality on board and all the nice and useful things he has done for society and mankind!
VIDEO: A billionaire from Forb's list visited Telegraf
(Telegraf.co.uk / Ivana Trisic - email@example.com)